Japan’s strengths in research present a major opportunity for scaling biotechnology start-ups. To address the challenge of limited access to entrepreneurship coaching and capital hindering global expansion, the Japan Society of Northern California (JSNC) and OviBees Ventures are implementing bioJent, a one-year entrepreneurship support program to build cultural and business ties between the U.S. and Japan, with a focus on venture capital and entrepreneurship coaching in the biotechnology sector.
From the U.S. 🇺🇸
Christopher Ghadban is an entrepreneur & venture capitalist passionate about supporting frontier technologies to create a healthier and more equitable future.
Chris currently serves as a Principal at Alix Ventures, where he supports high potential, early-stage life science startups harnessing the power of biology to drive radical advances in human health. He also manages BIOS, Alix’s media platform, and is the Founder of 1bio, which brings together thousands of individuals across the life sciences in over a dozen cities through a series of initiatives including community events and mentorship programs.
Prior to joining Alix, Chris was a Strategy & Innovation Program Lead with AstraZeneca’s Emerging Innovations Unit – combining BD, S&E, and innovation strategy. Before AstraZeneca, Chris founded a boutique startup consultancy where he advised over a dozen promising biotechnology companies. Chris earned his undergraduate & graduate degrees @ Tufts University, where he completed his MS in Bioengineering and BS in Chemical Engineering & Biotechnology Engineering. Chris also earned his MBA @ Wharton (University of Pennsylvania) with a focus in Healthcare Management.
In his spare time Chris can be found outdoors, making new recipes, exploring used bookstores, filling his sketchbook, learning to salsa dance, and advising new ventures – Mentoring @ iGEM, Nucleate, MassBio, and more. Reach out to Chris@alix.vc to get in touch!
Dr. Garcia Rizo is a global multilingual business developer that leverages her scientific experience and technology/ML/AI expertise to create the highest value for customers and drive sustainable growth in Healthcare, Biotech, and Diagnostics.
She is an energizing global leader of cross-functional teams worldwide with an extensive network across VC’s, Biotech, Big Pharma, Providers, Payers, and Regulatory Agencies. She is a mentor, thought leader, and a frequent speaker at ML-Biotech conferences, financial and industry events.
Carolina is passionate about leveraging ML to improve the efficiency and speed of drug discovery and development. She has been a Chief Business Officer of several biotechs growing their business, increasing profitability and leading to sucesful exists (Sell & IPO). Currently she is in the board of several startups and does BD consulting for some biotechs.
Dr. Garcia Rizo has a MBA from MIT and a PhD in Atomic and Molecular Physics performed at CSIC, CNRS and UC Berkeley, where she was a Fulbright Scholar.
Dr. Shinichiro (Shin) Fuse, is Partner and Managing Director at TPG Life Sciences Innovation. He co-leads life sciences venture investments at TPG and serves on the Board of Directors at Santa Ana Bio. Previously, he was Managing Director at MPM Capital, where he served on the investment committee of the Oncology Impact Fund (OIF) and BioVentures Funds. Shin served on the Board of Directors of Orna Therapeutics, iOmx Therapeutics, Triplet Therapeutics and ReNAgade Therapeutics, and as a board observer for ElevateBio and Repare Therapeutics. Shin also played operational roles at MPM portfolio companies as the interim CEO of Orna Therapeutics and interim/founding SVP of Business Development at ElevateBio.
Prior to joining MPM, he was Director of Business Development at bluebird bio, where he was instrumental in executing and managing key industry and academic partnerships in the fields of cell and gene therapy, cancer immunotherapy and genome editing. Previously, he was at Campbell Alliance (Syneos Health) as a life science strategy consultant, and an associate at PureTech. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors of the Guarini School of Graduate and Advanced Studies at Dartmouth College. He also served was a part-time columnist for Nikkei Biotech, writing on trends in the US biotech sector.
Shin received his Ph.D. in Microbiology and Immunology from Dartmouth College, an M.S. in Biomedical Science from the University of Tokyo, and a B.Eng. in Applied Chemistry from Keio University in Japan.
Takaaki Ishii, a molecular biologist by training, joined Taiho Ventures in 2019. He has acquired over 11 years of oncology expertise in early stage clinical development, product portfolio strategies as well as scientific evaluations for in-house and potential partnering programs in a wide range of cancer types.
His representative contribution to Taiho Pharmaceutical includes in-licensing AB928 (A2aR/A2bR Dual Antagonist) from Arcus Biosciences as well as both medical and Medical Science Liaison activities for nab-paclitaxel (ABRAXANE®) and pembrolizumab (KEYTRUDA®) in Japan.
Ovidiu Bujorean, a MIT and Harvard alumni and scholar of the Joint Japan/World Bank Graduate Scholarship Program, the founder of OviBees Ventures, is a leader in designing and implementing platforms that encourage technology-based entrepreneurship at country and regional levels. His previous work with The GIST Network, the U.S. Department of State flagship entrepreneurship program, a global enterprise building entrepreneurial ecosystems across 135 countries, showcased his dedication to fostering entrepreneurship on a global scale.
Larry Greenwood is senior adviser to the BowerGroupAsia, a government-relations consulting firm in Washington D.C. He lives and works in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was president of the Japan Society of Northern California until stepping down at the end of 2019.
Greenwood worked four years in Tokyo, where he managed government relations throughout Asia for MetLife, and for five years in Manila, Philippines, where he co-led the Asian Development Bank and was responsible for about $7 billion of development lending a year.
From 1976-2006 he served as a U.S. diplomat in overseas assignments at the embassies in Tokyo, the Philippines and Singapore and in a variety of other jobs at the State Department, including as ambassador to the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) group and principal deputy assistant secretary for economic and business affairs. Greenwood is a non-resident senior associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, one of the most prominent think tanks on international issues in Washington D.C. He serves on the boards of the Japan Society of Northern California and Capital Sisters, a non-profit that funds micro-loans for poor women in emerging economies.
He holds a BA from Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, FL, and an MALD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Medford, MA. He speaks and reads English, Japanese and French.
At Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Jim Roberts evaluates and protects new inventions in life sciences from principal investigators and their labs, for commercial and societal impact. Building on a portfolio of impactful inventions, Jim Roberts facilitates the translation of these technologies into commercial products and services all over the world using the mechanisms of licensing and company creation on behalf of MIT and to the benefit of the Institute, its inventors, licensees, and the public at large.
Before joining the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Technology Licensing Office (MIT TLO), Jim Roberts was the Director of Licensing at CU Innovations, where he led a team of 6 licensing managers. Together they provided research, licensing, and company creation support to principal investigators at CU’s Anschutz Medical and Denver campuses.
Prior to CU Innovations, Jim Roberts was the Associate Director at Partners Healthcare Innovations and previously held various patent sourcing and monetization positions at Conversant IP Management, Rembrandt IP Management, Real Clear Intelligence, and BTG International, where he led a global team of 12 technology acquisition executives.
Jim Roberts has worked in medicine as a medical physicist in four different hospitals and held various marketing and sales positions at Philips Healthcare.
His skills include patent sales, patent acquisitions, patent licensing, patent enforcement, technology and patent assessment, organizational leadership, global team management, alliance management, business development, product sales, product marketing, technical marketing, and competitive intelligence.
Jim Roberts’ goal is to facilitate the smooth transaction of valuable technology for the furtherance of meaningful research aims and impactful products.
From Japan 🇯🇵
Alan Turley is the Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, Japan. He leads a team of 36 U.S. Commercial Service professionals in Tokyo and Osaka that is dedicated to promoting closer trade and economic ties between the United States and Japan. The CS Japan team promotes U.S. exports to Japan, encourages Japanese direct investment into the United States, works to improve the trade and investment climate in Japan and advises the leadership in the Department of Commerce on trade-policy issues regarding the bilateral commercial relationship.
Prior returning to Tokyo, Mr. Turley was the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for China and Mongolia in Washington D.C., where he was responsible for International Trade Administration (ITA) programs in those markets. From 2002 to 2016, Mr. Turley was Vice President for International Affairs in Asia Pacific for FedEx Express. Twice a winner of FedEx’s coveted “Five Star Award”, Mr. Turley helped manage FedEx’s rapid growth and expansion in Asia, including the building of China’s first international air express hub, the founding of FedEx’s wholly-owned operations in China, and the approval of FedEx’s purchase of TNT Express.
Mr. Turley’s previous service in the U.S. & Foreign Commercial Service started in 1986 in Japan, where he headed the Major Projects and Transportation Equipment Unit. Mr. Turley then served as the Director of the Commercial Service’s International Marketing Center at the U.S. Embassy in London before moving back to Asia to become Deputy Senior Commercial Officer at the American Institute in Taiwan. From 1996 to 2000, Mr. Turley was the Minister-Counselor for Commercial Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and after that service he returned to Japan to serve in the same capacity at the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo.
Alan Turley was educated in public schools in Cheshire Connecticut and was graduated from the University of Virginia with High Honors in 1983. After receiving his B.A., Mr. Turley spent two years studying Chinese in Taiwan at National Taiwan Normal University’s Mandarin Training Center.
Mr. Mori has been Chief Executive Officer and has served as a member of the Board since SanBio’s inception in 2001. Prior to founding SanBio, Mr. Mori was Head of New Product Development from 2000 to 2001 at Xuma, an informatics startup in San Francisco. From 1993 to 1999, Mr. Mori held positions of increasing responsibility in R&D and Manufacturing at Kirin Holdings, Ltd. in Japan.
Mr. Mori holds an MBA degree from the University of California, Berkeley and a master’s degree in Biochemistry from the University of Tokyo.
Mitsuru Izumo is a graduate of the University of Tokyo, having specialised in agricultural structural management. In 2005, he established Euglena Co., Ltd. to harness the properties of microalgae Euglena. Euglena Co., Ltd. became the world’s first biotechnology company that succeeded in the outdoor mass cultivation of Euglena. Currently, Euglena Co., Ltd. upholds “Sustainability First” as their philosophy and has developed the manufacture and sale of foods and cosmetics as the healthcare domain, the biofuel business, the bioinformatics business, and the social business in Bangladesh by leveraging Euglena and other advanced technologies.
Dr. Makoto (Mark) Ohori is Partner and Chief Investment Officer at UTokyo Innovation Platform Co., Ltd. (UTokyo IPC). In this role, he spearheads the life sciences investments at UTokyo IPC. Dr. Ohori also serves on the Board of Directors at Axial Therapeutics (Woburn, MA), reverSASP Therapeutics Inc. (Bunkyo, Tokyo), Heartseed Inc. (Minato, Tokyo), LiberoThera Inc., and RIN Institute (Chuo, Tokyo), and as a Board Observer for DEM Biopharma (Cambridge, MA), Carbon Biosciences (Waltham, MA), and STORM Therapeutics (Cambridge, UK). Additionally, at reverSASP Therapeutics, he serves as the Representative Director and Board Chair, directly managing the startup’s operations and strategic direction.
Prior to joining UTokyo IPC, Dr. Ohori was the Executive Director and Head of Early-stage Partnering at Astellas Innovation Management in Cambridge, MA. There, he managed a global business development team for innovation acquisition and established strategic partnerships with biopharmaceutical companies and academic institutions, such as Pandion Therapeutics, Harvard University, MIT and Boston Children’s Hospital. In these partnerships, Dr. Ohori played a pivotal role such as a member of the Joint Steering Committees, overseeing collaborative efforts and guiding strategic decisions.
Earlier in his career, Dr. Ohori was an Investment Director at Astellas Venture Management in Menlo Park, CA, where he invested in a range of promising biotech startups including Verastem, Fate, Cleave, Epizyme, PhaseBio, eFFECTOR, Crescendo (UK), Bicycle Therapeutics, Mitobridge, and Tizona.
As part of his responsibilities there, Mark led build-to-buy company creations at Astellas, such as Potenza Therapeutics in Cambridge, which was successfully acquired by Astellas in 2019.
Mark has over 20 years of experience as a drug discovery scientist in both the small molecule and biologics fields. He received his Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. in Pharmaceutical Sciences from the University of Tokyo in Japan.
Taro Inaba is Founder and Managing Partner at Remiges Ventures. He has over 32 years of business experience including 22 years in start-up financing and company creation in the life science area. At Remiges, Taro is engaged in technology sourcing, company creation, and serving as director for multiple companies for the Remiges’ portfolio including Inflectis Bioscience, Omeicos Therapeutics, Imel Biotherapeutics, Luca Science and Capacity Bio. Above all, he is fascinated with and loves mitochondrial science and is working with researchers, scientists, physicians, and patient advocacy groups in the field. Prior to Remiges, Taro was Head of the Corporate VC and other divisions at Mitsui & Co. a large Japanese company including a position as President & CEO at Mitsui & Co. Venture Partners in Menlo Park, CA, where he built and managed a biopharmaceutical investment team and portfolio that delivered excellent financial performance. Taro holds a B.E. in Polymer Chemistry, Kyoto University and MBA from European University.
Dr. Futami is an experienced healthcare investor, entrepreneur and executive. He started his career as a researcher at Astellas Pharma Inc. where he led and managed more than 10 drug discovery projects, mainly in oncology and metabolic disorders.
He subsequently joined Astellas’s corporate venture capital arm in Menlo Park and Cambridge and was involved in many successful investments, including Potenza Therapeutics (acquired by Astellas), Bicycle Therapeutics (IPO: NASDAQ). He also managed collaborations with top academic institutes, including Dana-Farber cancer institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Weill Cornell Medicine.
Most recently, Dr. Futami was a Principal at Fast Track Initiative and played a key role in global investments and company creation from academic discoveries by identifying and evaluating new life sciences technologies. He is co-founder of reverSASP Therapeutics, K.K., a venture-backed biotech start-up based on Japanese academic discoveries.
Fred is a seasoned investment professional with over 20 years of experience in the VC, PE, and investment banking industries, where he has assumed a number of key positions at multiple prominent organizations.
Early in his career, Fred was instrumental in setting up the biotech investment team within the Investment Business Dept of Marubeni USA, where he gained deep experience in sourcing, evaluating, executing and actively supporting young biotech startups through successful exits. Subsequently, Fred joined Patriarch Partners, a distressed private equity firm, where he was rapidly promoted to the Co-Head of Credit Team position and continued to managed a team of 14 investment professionals overseeing hundreds of distressed and high yield credits across five funds totaling multi-billion dollars in AUM.
Most recently, Fred served Mizuho Securities, a Japanese investment bank, as a VP in the ECM Dept and subsequently as a Director in the Investment Business Department, from where he successfully launched Axil Capital, a life sciences VC firm, in August, 2017. Fred holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from M.I.T. He is a native and technical-level bilingual in Japanese and English, and is proficient in multiple scientific disciplines.
Hiroki Sugita is a partner in Orrick’s Tokyo Office and a member of the M&A and Private Equity Group. He works on a wide range of cross-border transactions including mergers and acquisitions, joint ventures, emerging companies and venture capital transactions, and private equity investment especially in Japan, the United States, Europe and Asia.
Hiroki has extensive experience in the healthcare and life science industries, including biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, digital health, research, laboratories, medical devices, and diagnostic tools, providing valuable advice and solutions to his clients.
Deputy Secretary General for science, Technology and innovation Policy. Deputy Secretary General, Office of Global Startup Campus Initiative, Cabinet Secretariat
1992 Bachelor of Engineering, Department of Technology, Tohoku University, Japan
1994 Master of Engineering, School of Engineering, Tohoku University, Japan
2000 Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University, USA
1994 Science and Technology Agency (STA), Government of Japan
1996 Chief, Coordination Division, Science and Technology Policy Bureau, STA
2000 Deputy Director, Learning and Information Division, Life-long Learning Bureau, Ministry of Education
2002 Director, General Affairs Division, Kyushu University
2005 Deputy Director, General Affairs Division, Council of Science and Technology Policy, Cabinet Office
2007 First Secretary (Science Attache), Embassy of Japan in France
2010 Director, Quantum Radiation Research Office, Research Promotion Bureau, Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT)
2011 Secretary to the Minister of MEXT
2012 Director for Nuclear Damage Compensation Division, MEXT
2014 Director for Human Resources Division, Ministers Secretariat Bureau, MEXT
2016 Director, Environment and Energy Division, Research and Development Bureau, MEXT
2018 Director, Space Development and Utilization Division, Research and Development
2021 Director, Student Division, Higher Education Policy Bureau, MEXT
2023 Deputy Director General for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy, Cabinet Office